By Chuck Larsen, SC Associate Publisher
In the event of an emergency when residents are not present, the fire department needs access to the building. To avoid property damage from gaining entry, the Knox Box key system has been in use for years with a physical key.
The Sanibel Fire & Rescue District is now installing new, safer residential Knox Electronic Key Boxes. This is a more secure version which provides box access only by an electronic key kept in the fire truck. The key is only activated for one hour after leaving the truck and has to be returned to recharge and reauthorize.
Sanibel Fire has been preparing for this since last year. There was a delay in implementing the new system as every fire vehicle in Lee county had to be fitted with the recharging base. Since fire departments assist each other, they could be called to assist anywhere in the county.
The process is complete, and residents can order a Knox Box online from the manufacturer. Current cost is $476. It is sent to the resident’s address. After delivery and when called, the fire department will come to the residence and install the box outside the residence or business.
The owner has only to place a key inside the box for entry in an emergency. The former system has a physical key which, if lost or stolen, could be used to gain entry. The new system’s electronic key will only open the box after being activated in the fire truck and, if not re-energized, will become useless.
The Sanibel Fire District has installed about a dozen new boxes and expects to do many more as residents and business owners learn of the new secure system.
In addition to fire emergency access, it is important for at-risk residential occupants, and persons responsible for at-risk occupants, who need the ability to grant fire departments access to a residential property in an emergency without property damage
Division Chief Fire Marshal Larry Williams points out that the system “prevents property damage to the home, and allows fire personnel to enter the structure as quickly as possible. It also allows us to resecure the property after the incident.”
The Knox Box system provides homeowners with the same secure rapid access system that currently protects hundreds of thousands of governments and commercial properties in more than 13,500 fire jurisdictions across North America for more than 40 years.
To order a new Knox Box, Sanibel residents need to go to KnoxBox.com, then click through Products/Residential Knoxboxes/Florida/Sanibel Fire/Knox Home Box. With backplate, price is currently $476.